Monday, July 18, 2011

An Attempt at a Finchian Monster

As far as I am concerned, one of the great monster designers in the OSR is Matt Finch (who is beginning a new monster book!). One thing that makes some of his best monsters so awesome is not the damage they do or how cool they look. Some don't even pose that great of a threat in and of themselves. What makes them so entertaining is that they change battlefield conditions — they force players to deal with a changing environment that affects the way they are able to fight and explore the dungeon/wilderness. Though I have promised myself to imitate this design technique, my output in this direction has been anemic. This is an attempt to change that.

Merovingian Hound

But you, O Lord, do not be far away! O my help, come quickly to my aid! Deliver my soul from the sword, my life from the power of the dog! — Psalm 22:19-20

Number Appearing: 1d6
% in Lair: 80%
Alignment: Chaotic
Armor Class: 5
Move: 12
Hit Dice: 1+1
Attacks: 1d6 + special
Special: see below
Save: F2
Morale: 12
Hoard Class: none
XP: 45

Easily mistaken for some kind of undead creature, Merovingian Hounds are actually a construct, using many of the same techniques used to make golems. They are used by necromancers, vampires and other dark powers as guardians.

Upon a successful attack, a Merovingian Hound will lock its jaws upon its victim and begin emanating a piercing noise somewhere between a whine and a growl. This is will result in an immediate wandering monsters check, with a 50% chance of success. Until the noise is stopped, the party will be subject to this wandering monster check every turn. This noise will continue until the hound lets go of its victim, even in death.

The hound will only let go if its victim is killed, even if the hound itself is reduced to 0hp. These victims will take no further damage, but will have their movement rate cut in half. If anyone attempts to cut the victim free, the victim will take 1d6 damage and must make a save vs. death. If successful, the victim is free of the jaw. If not, the procedure must be done again, doing another 1d6 damage. The only way to force a Merovingian Hound to let go of one of its victims is to pour a vial of holy water on it.

Being a type of golem, Merovingian Hounds are immune to sleep, charm and hold spells as well as fire and cold attacks. Electric attacks will heal them. Further, they may only be hit by silver and magic weapons.


  1. Kind of a Shrieker with a bite, eh? I like making these constructs rather than undead, it's an underused idea.

  2. @Anthony
    Yes! I was originally thinking about making them undead, but then realized that they would be virtually useless against any mid-to-high level party with a cleric. As a construct, they can be used against even high level parties and still have an impact.

  3. This is why I don't like free turning. It makes undeath somewhat less than scary.

  4. Very nice! I'm adding this to my wondering monster tables. Thanks!

  5. @Roger
    This is why I don't like free turning. It makes undeath somewhat less than scary.

    This is why I have no real problems with undead having nasty things like level drain. Sure, you might win initiative and Turn 2d6 HD worth of undead, but what happens if you lose? I've run encounters where a mid-level party with three clerics ran away from a group of wights.

    Great! I'd be very interested to hear how any encounters turn out...